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Bitcoin Mining Economics

Dec 19, 2023

Bitcoin Mining Economics

Bitcoin Mining Economics


In a recent episode of the Bitcoin Standard podcast, host Saifedean Ammous welcomed Pierre Rochard, a prominent bitcoin researcher and writer, to discuss the intricacies of bitcoin mining and its economic implications. Rochard, who has been involved in the bitcoin space since 2013 and co-founded the Satoshi Nakamoto Institute, shared his insights on the sustainability of bitcoin transaction fees and the future economics of bitcoin settlement.


The conversation delved into the economics of bitcoin mining, addressing common concerns about transaction fees and their role in the network's security and functionality. Rochard explained the dual revenue streams for bitcoin miners: block subsidies, which halve every four years, and transaction fees, which incentivize miners to include transactions in the next block. He also touched on the block size limit, its controversial history, and its impact on transaction fee volatility.

A significant portion of the discussion revolved around the future of bitcoin mining revenue, particularly as block subsidies diminish over time. The interplay between technological advancements in scaling bitcoin and the increasing demand for block space was considered, with both guests agreeing on the market's ability to find an equilibrium between supply and demand for transaction fees.

Key Takeaways

  • Bitcoin mining revenue comes from block subsidies and transaction fees, with the former set to decrease over time.
  • Transaction fees play a crucial role in incentivizing miners and ensuring transaction finality within the network.
  • The block size limit, while contentious, is essential for preventing centralization and maintaining the decentralized nature of bitcoin.
  • Technological improvements, such as scaling solutions, will influence the future dynamics of transaction fees and mining revenue.
  • The long-term sustainability of the bitcoin mining industry hinges on a balance between technological progress and market demand for block space.

Best Quotes

  • "The bitcoin miners get two kinds of revenue. One is the new bitcoin being added to the ledger, the subsidy that gets cut in half every four years. And then the other source of revenue is the transaction fees."
  • "In order to minimize the cost of running a bitcoin node, Satoshi did put in place the block size limit... It's a very low time preference thing."
  • "Bitcoin mining in today's state of 98% of the revenue comes from new issuance of bitcoin. That means, in my mind, the bitcoin mining industry, what it is solving for, the 98% of what it is solving for, is anti-seniorage."
  • "The higher transaction fees are, the more interest there is in terms of developing scaling technologies that bring down the transaction fees. It's kind of a paradox."
  • "Bitcoin mining is going to continue to be a serious industry... because of the increasing purchasing power of bitcoin, and then, second of all, because of the increased usage of the bitcoin network and that value accruing into transaction fees and to the mining industry."

The podcast episode provided a deep dive into the economic principles underpinning bitcoin mining and offered a nuanced perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing the industry as it evolves.


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